Helen Marie McGreevy Gannon, 89, died at home on September 19, 2011. She was born on November 19, 1921, in Waterloo, Iowa, to Irene Kulp McGreevy and Joseph McGreevy.
As a child of the Great Depression, she learned to be resourceful. She graduated from Waterloo's Sacred Heart Catholic School in 1939, and afterwards moved to Des Moines with her family. Known for her quick mind and typing skills, she soon found work as a secretary at a downtown insurance company.
After a courtship often including big band dances at the Tromar Ballroom, she married John Joseph Gannon on April 13, 1944. The young couple saw hope for a safe, productive future in post-war America. Nine months and two weeks after their wedding, she had a daughter--the first of 14 children. Eventually, she set the record as the mother of the most babies born at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Over the course of nine decades, 64 people would call her Mom and Grandma, and hundreds more would cherish her as a mentor and symbol of strength.
Helen Gannon proved that principles, faith, and community remain important. She loved music, dancing, collecting dolls, traveling, shopping, reading, writing (with beautiful penmanship and perfect spelling), and solving Jumble puzzles almost instantly. She enjoyed baking, as well, and was proud of her blue ribbons from the Iowa State Fair. She devoted herself to the Catholic Church, and found support in prayers and patron saints. She was profoundly honest and forthright, and always made time to talk with family and friends. She retained an extraordinary memory. Through the decades, in her natural and assured way, she kept her large brood connected and secure in her love for them all.
She is survived by her daughters Sheila (Ron) Paukert of Rochester, MN; Marianne (Stephen) Depetris of Oakland, CA; Jeanie (Anthony) Rose of Seaford, NY; Maureen (Mike) Ryan of Mitchellville, IA; Bebe (Dave) Pyle of Baxter, IA; Annie (Dan) Wasson of Mingo, IA; Eileen (Doug Hutchison) Gannon of Des Moines, IA; sons Dan (Mari) Gannon of Ankeny, IA; Jim (Angela) Gannon of Halualoa, HI; Mike (Brenda) Gannon of Colfax, IA; Bob Gannon of Henderson, NV; Richard Gannon of Des Moines, IA; Joe Gannon of Temecula, CA; sister Barbara Davis of St. Paul MN; 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by John Gannon, her husband of 55 years; her son Christopher Gannon; sister Mildred Coughlin; and brothers Mark and Gene McGreevy.
A visitation will be held Thursday, September 22, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Colfax, Iowa. The family will be present from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A funeral mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, September 23, in the same church. Contributions may be made to the Helen Gannon Memorial. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.coburnfuneralhomes.com.
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